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Opioid Crisis in Canadian Schools


Opioid addiction is one of the main threats to the modern youth of Canada. The most terrible thing is that taking drugs among modern youth has become an everyday thing. Among the means of combating this disease is the need to educate people on the topic of drug addiction and its horrific consequences. In addition, teenagers have not yet formed a full-fledged personality, and they are emotionally weak and excessively curious. In addition, a teenager wants to become an adult faster, be different from other peers, and solve problems most efficiently. A positive atmosphere in educational institutions is an essential factor in the fight against drugs. In difficult times for young people, it is crucial to provide them with the necessary help and support.

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One of the most critical problems in the health sector in Canada is the opioid crisis. The growing rate of opioid abuse and addiction among Canadian young people has become an overwhelming issue. The inclusion in the Canadian educational program of raising awareness about the abuse of psychotropic substances and the dependence that they cause is of indisputable importance. This will help prevent negative consequences by helping young people make the right choice.

Drug Addiction in Adolescents

In most cases, drug addiction in adolescence begins due to personal problems, for example, lack of joy in life. If teenagers do not find anything suitable in everyday life or are not satisfied with their environment, they come to the fact that they try banned substances. Seeing drugs as a way to get pleasure and joy in life, young people do not realize that getting rid of addiction and avoiding the consequences will be very difficult and sometimes even impossible. The specificity of drug addiction in adolescence also lies in the fact that the cause of its development may be completely the opposite situation. Teenagers are in a safe company of friends, but they strive to be leaders in it. To do this, they begin to demonstrate their various abilities to their peers, among which are smoking, alcohol, and drug use as signs of adulthood.

Opioid addiction is one of the most dangerous, severe, and at the same time, widespread addictions. There is a short-term euphoria, followed by an improvement in mood, internal relaxation, a sense of insight, lightness, and enlightenment when using it. Kosten and Baxter (2019) emphasize that “the types of withdrawal symptoms experienced may vary from patient to patient but are similar regardless of the type of opioid used” (p. 56). A supportive school environment that provides mental health services, substance use regulation, and prevention programs tends to have a lower non-medical prescription opioid use rate.

Opium addiction is a harmful and widely met addiction that can easily be exposed to adolescents. Unlike substance abuse in adults, teenagers’ addiction develops faster and leads to sadder and more dangerous consequences. Often, a single intake of a substance is enough to form a severe addiction. A study conducted by Probst et al. (2020) showed that mental health was related to relatively lower risks of non-medical prescription opioid use among students located in a more supportive school environment compared to those who studied in a less supportive atmosphere. Regulations related to opioid use implemented in schools can prevent the transition of such addiction into injection drug use by giving support and interference for the damaged mental state of the youth.


The problem of opium addiction is of great importance from a social, medical, and legal point of view. In eliminating such a complex issue as opioid abuse in Canadian schools, it is vital to identify the possible reasons that caused this situation. Mental health issues were recognized as one of the most significant causes of non-medical prescription opioid use. A supportive school environment not only reduces the risk of non-medical opioid use but also improves the mental health state among students. Moreover, emphasized rules and regulations regarding substance use introduced in schools help to increase awareness about the harm and negative outcomes related to opioid abuse.

The Lack of Knowledge

The insufficient knowledge about substance use among the population is linked to high hospitalization levels and ED visits among younger age groups. Researches show that only 7 % of people know how to treat an overdose (Belzak & Halverson, 2018). Moreover, Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) mentioned that 33% of intoxicated Canadians did not come to the emergency department during an overdose because of issues connected with police involvement and possible arrest (Belzak & Halverson, 2018). This research also highlighted that the age group from 15 to 44 is the fastest-growing among substance users.

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The issue of hospitalization and opioid overdose is closely related to the lack of sufficient knowledge among the young population about the harmful consequences of substance use. Understanding the health risks and outcomes that might lead to the death of opioid usage among younger people can lower intention and interest in this substance. Moreover, it is vital to understand how teenagers have their own categorical ban on specific actions. The study of this mechanism of self-prohibition may be effective in using it in the fight against harmful pleasures. Furthermore, general knowledge about opioid addiction may help to avoid and deal with cases of intoxication or overdose.

Prescription Opioid Abuse

Prescription opioid abuse is regarded as the consequence of future heroin abuse due to the gradual switch from soft to heavy kinds of drugs. Vosburg et al. (2016) concluded that the number of participants in the study reports transition from marijuana addiction into prescription opioid abuse because of synergistic experience during the first consumption of opioid drugs. Therefore, most heroin-addicted youths admit having opioid addiction before heroin abuse and progressive transformation between them (Vosburg et al., 2016). Heavy drugs cause instant addiction, and people at the same time have irreversible consequences of both mental disorders and disruption of the work of internal organs.

Thus, opioid use can evolve into more severe and destructive drug abuse. The evidence that such a drug as marijuana can lead to prescription opioid abuse emphasizes the possible variation between these issues. Furthermore, the reports of heroin-addicted adolescents show that some measures such as ADFs could be useless. To prevent future complications associated with opioid abuse in Canadian schools, it is crucial to regulate the present situation.

Perception and Understanding

Educators’ and academics’ higher perception and understanding of addictions can provide more outstanding assistance in coping with social difficulties caused by prescription opioid abuse among the youth. Vosburg et al. (2016) say that prescription opioid abuse was accompanied by social coping difficulties and social anxiety. Besides, more profound knowledge about opioid abuse can facilitate more complex and advanced prevention measures for young people (Vosburg et al., 2016). This leads to the conclusion that education on the topic of drugs should be carried out not only among adolescents but also among people who are engaged in this transfer of knowledge.

Adolescents with opioid abuse face social difficulties and anxiety related to their addiction. Educators who are entirely aware of psychological and physical issues associated with the problem can decrease the social stress of young people. Moreover, understanding the motivation and current state of teenagers who turn to drugs can provide a basis for obtaining effective and beneficial problem prevention strategies.


The recognition of opioid abuse and addiction among Canadian youth facilitated by the high school curriculum could be a critical factor in reducing adverse effects and fatal consequences of substance abuse. The main points presented in this paper highlight the importance of awareness connected with opioid use and addiction. The transfer of opioid abuse into the more severe and dangerous forms of drug addiction, such as heroin addiction, is a critical issue associated with opiate addiction. Furthermore, the lack of information about opioid abuse and overdose in public leads to a high hospitalization rate among Canadian youth.

The question of drug abuse among young people requires deep investigation and focus from academic institutions and the general public. Complete knowledge of the mental and physiological condition of addicted young people will contribute educators to prevent opioid use in the future. In addition, supportive schools and controlled norms about substance use may lower opioid abuse rates. Thus, the role of educating the youth about the harmful and dangerous outcomes of addiction, provision of educators with relevant information, and introducing rules and regulations in relation to substance abuse could be helpful in weakening the number of opioid abuse among Canadian adolescents.

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Belzak, L., & Halverson, J. (2018). Evidence synthesis – the opioid crisis in Canada: A national perspective. Health Promotion and Chronic Disease Prevention in Canada, 38(6), 224-233.

Kosten, T. R., & Baxter, L. E. (2019). Effective management of opioid withdrawal symptoms: a gateway to opioid dependence treatment. The American journal on addictions, 28(2), 55-62.

Probst, C., Elton-Marshall, T., Imtiaz, S., Patte, K. A., Rehm, J., Sornpaisarn, B., & Leatherdale, S. T. (2020). A supportive school environment may reduce the risk of non-medical prescription opioid use due to impaired mental health among students. European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 30(2), 293-301.

Vosburg, S. K., Eaton, T. A., Sokolowska, M., Osgood, E. D., Ashworth, J. B., Trudeau, J. J., Muffett-Lipinski, M., & Katz, N. P. (2016). Prescription opioid abuse, prescription opioid addiction, and heroin abuse among adolescents in a recovery high school: A pilot study. Journal of Child & Adolescent Substance Abuse, 25(2), 105-112.

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